Mr. Speaker, I am generally supportive of the remarks of my friend from Winnipeg—Transcona. However, I would not agree that the same rules apply to parliamentarians in this place as apply to judges.
I do not think there is a reciprocal rule at all. I think we in this House are very free to comment on matters in front of the bench as we see fit. We in this House have a historic immunity that is there for the people of this country. It is there for a reason. It may be correct that judges are restricted. I will get into that in just a moment, but I do not agree we in the House are.
In terms of the matter at hand, I suggest there are at least two perspectives on this event on the remarks of the judge. The first one is that the judge, in making his remarks, appears to have embraced the role or mantle of a citizen and felt that it was in order for him to pass comment.
Any citizen in this country is free to pass comment in words such as those used by the judge outside the courtroom on this House. We are a nation that embraces our freedom. Comments about how we do our business in this place are most appropriate. We love to hear it. Keep those cards and letters coming.
That is one perspective. The judge apparently, in my view, respectfully forgot that he was on the bench. As a judge, he is not free to meddle in the politics of this place. As I understand it, he is not free to meddle in any of the politics of the nation. He is there to do a job on the bench interpreting the law and fact.
Others in here may stand corrected if the facts turn out to be other than those reported. That meddling is worthy of rebuke and I regret the apparently profound ignorance that judge has of the purpose of this place and the role we fill as members of Parliament.
That ignorance is reflected only in his remarks made perhaps by the seat of the pants while on the bench, I do not know. However, those limited back of the envelope comments were a disappointment to me and certainly worthy of note on the record in the House here.
In terms of how the House should respond, I realize this is a matter of privilege. I realize before anything can go further we have an obligation here to put in place a prima facie case that a privilege of the House has been breached, in this case an alleged contempt.
I regret this House would have to take the step of finding a prima facie contempt on the part of a judge. If that were to be the case, I am sure the judge would perhaps want to have looked back and done it differently.
As an alternative to placing on Mr. Speaker the burden of finding there was perhaps a contempt, perhaps it would be appropriate—I offer this to colleagues in the House in the hope that it may be viable—to unanimously agree that the issue is one that has been brought to the attention of the House, is of concern to members of the House, and we would ask the Clerk to refer the matter to the Canadian Judicial Council for comment, if any.
Should the matter be responded to by the council, that the Clerk make the House aware through Mr. Speaker and, if so advised after that, the House deal with the matter, if it is a matter of contempt or otherwise as you may give us your advice on.
I offer as an alternative to invite through the Canadian Judicial Council the judge in question to clarify. If it is not to be viewed as a matter of contempt, we will at least have taken note of it and moved on to other important issues.